Ridding the world of terrorism To the Editor
Guyana Chronicle
October 20, 2001

The United States has responded to the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington by bombing Afghanistan. Several contributors to your letter column have strongly condemned this American action and even labelled it terrorism.

Let me at the very outset state that I recognize that past American actions have many times been unjust and they have led to death and destruction in many Third World countries, especially during the Cold War. The US is no angel; even today there are many American policies which are greatly unfair and unjust.

However, let us scrutinize the defence of the terrorist attack on the US.

The argument is that the Arabs are terribly angered by American policy especially as it relates to Israel and the Palestinians. They maintain that American support for Israel has caused terrible agony and destruction among Muslims in the Middle East. They forcefully condemn the US policy and they feel that terrorism against the US is, therefore, justified since the Americans will feel a bit of the pain as the Arabs do.

But should a country, which vigorously opposes the policies of another country, engage in terrorist acts against that country? In the present scenario many people are saying that Afghanistan and Mr. Bin Laden are right in so doing against the US.

But let us look at the converse of this argument, i.e. the US bitterly opposes the policies of the Taliban regime and Mr. Bin Laden. Therefore, according to the above argument, the US is right to attack Afghanistan.

It is clear then that the very defence of the Taliban is itself a justification for American bombing of Afghanistan. How can some people support Al Qaeda terrorism in the US but at the same time oppose US strikes against Afghanistan? Very inconsistent and illogical, I must say.

Such support for targeting another country through terrorism because of uncompromising differences in policy will lead to a world of chaos. The big, powerful countries will quickly drum up spurious allegations against their smaller, weaker neighbours, thus paving the way for an invasion of those territories. So, according to the various letter writers, the Soviet Union was right to have subjugated Eastern Europe, and China will be right to take over South East Asia once it can make out a case of irreconcilable differences in policy even though these are clearly orchestrated.

Furthermore, such an argument will lay the basis for Venezuela to invade Guyana once it can concoct enough differences in policies between the two countries. And the letter writers will support such a Venezuelan move claiming that Guyana was the original sinner.

Islamic terrorism has been the most virulent and devastating in the world. Other terrorist groups such as the IRA, the Basque separatists, Corsican nationalists, etc. largely confine their attacks to their own country/region or to their government's property abroad, e.g., Sikh terrorists blowing up an Air India plane.

But Arab terrorists have travelled the world indiscriminately unleashing death and destruction to many who may not even be aware of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Even now in far away obscure Guyana I have to live in fear for the safety of my family and myself because of the mindless violence of Muslim terrorists. And this fear is shared by millions the world over. I don't have any such fear of being attacked and severely injured by the Israelis.

The record of Arab/Palestinian acts of violence throughout the world is too horrible to recount. The Israelis don't do that. The worst that they do is to target leading Muslim terrorists abroad and liquidate them. They do not go about blowing up buildings and crowded centers in other peoples' countries.

Also, the Israelis only react to Palestine violence. Several Palestinian groups have not given up their pledge to destroy Israel. The present violence in Israel and Palestine was started by the Palestinians themselves when they attacked a group of Jews who were attempting to visit a place sacred to both religions. It is the Palestinians who are the instigators of violence.

Moreover, President Bush and senior US officials have repeatedly said that this is not an attack on Islam. But it is the Muslims who are turning this into a war of the West versus Islam by calling on their brothers to support the Taliban. The claim of a war against Islam was first made by the Taliban rulers and then repeated elsewhere in the Muslim world.

The US is right to attack the Taliban and the Bin Laden outfit. The original act of September 11 seems to have been conveniently forgotten. But when the terrorist Al Qaeda network is destroyed, we will all breathe a sigh of relief. We will then be ever grateful to the US for ridding the world of Islamic terrorism.
James Bovell